A 100% increase in heroin seizures in the Waterford garda division last year and the co-relating rise in house and car break-ins raised serious concern at this month’s meeting of the City Council.

There were 77 major drugs busts in the locality last year, 11% of which were heroin-related. In total, €1.05m worth of drugs was seized, Supt Chris Delaney told a recent meeting of the Council’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC). The number of assaults was down to 350 (a reduction of 38 on 2007), while serious assaults went up from 88 to 95. A significant number were linked to the Traveller feud in the second half of the year. Drink driving arrests were down from 299 in 2007 to 264 in 2008. Speeding and using a mobile phone while driving offences increased, with fatal road collisions reduced from 3 to 2.

At Monday night’s Council meeting, Cllr Hilary Quinlan, chairperson of the JPC, expressed concern about the increased prevalence of heroin in the region and Cllr David Cullinane noted how the gardai was linking this escalation to a rise in home and car break-ins and shoplifting.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Cllr Seamus Ryan praised the weekly resident clinics established in six locations across the city to enable the public to meet and liaise with community gardai. The clinics have been in operation for two months now, at Gracedieu, Larchville/Lisduggan, Ballybeg, St John’s Park, the Dunmore Road and the inner city. Noting that headline crime in the division was on the increase, Cllr Ryan called for the allocation of additional community gardai. Cllr Tom Cunningham welcomed assurances that the number of community gardai in the region would not decline, regardless of funding pressure.

Acknowledging an 11% decline in the number of public order offences reported to the gardai, Cllr John Halligan nonetheless noted that the majority of these offences take place in the city centre and criticised venues who continue to serve drink to people who are obviously well over the legal alcohol limit.

Mayor of Waterford Cllr Jack Walsh welcomed the Council’s refusal to house people engaged in anti social behaviour.